The Association of Residential Letting Agents, ARLA, has reported that demand for quality properties to rent is still firmly outstripping supply.
According to a survey of ARLA members, more than 58% are still reporting a significant gap between supply and demand; 3% more that their December 2011 survey.
Compared to three months ago, the national average void period, when properties are vacant between tenants, is down from 3.1 weeks to 2.9 weeks, suggesting an increasing backlog of prospective tenants.
The survey also reports that the average number of new tenancies signed has only risen slightly. This is probably because suitable properties are in short supply.
The number of properties available for sale in the UK housing market has decreased by 38% since the start of the recession, according to the September report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
It recorded an average of 62 properties available for sale per branch during September; this is an increase from 60 in August 2012, but much lower than the average 100 per branch in December 2008.
President of ARLA, Jane Ingram, said that the demand for rental property was partly fuelled by would-be first-time buyers, who simply can’t afford to get on to the housing ladder.
She said: “Urgent action needs to be taken to ensure everyone who needs a home can find one, and at an affordable price.”
Stephen Davies, of lettings agents Connells in Emersons Green, agrees. He said: “Usually we see a fall off in people looking for homes to rent in the run up to Christmas, but this year that just isn’t happening. Supply is still failing to keep pace with high demand and the situation is currently exacerbated by landlords deciding to wait until the New Year before making arrangements to rent out their property. However, astute landlords recognise that there are still many people out there looking for a home to rent immediately and, with fewer rental properties available, they are likely to be able to cherry pick the best tenants. Current high demand from tenants, rising average rents and very competitive property prices mean there has never been a better time to be a landlord.”